14 February 2022

Ideas and power in employment relations studies

In a new article Martin B. Carstensen, Christian Lyhne Ibsen and Vivien A. Schmidt argues for the focus on role of ideas, discourses and identities in understanding shifting dynamics in employment relations.

Motivated by the efforts to understand shifting dynamics of change and stability in employment relations—not least ones brought on by a decade of crisis in what was a neoliberal consensus—scholars increasingly focus on the role of ideas, discourses, and identities. This paper argues for the potential of continuing down this path of employing ideational explanations in employment relations. First, it highlights four key weaknesses of employing more pure materialist–institutionalist approaches that have traditionally dominated employment relations scholarship. Second, it argues that to recognize and build on existing efforts to bring in ideas to employment relations, it is useful to place these on the macro-, meso-, and micro levels. Third, to further advance an ideational perspective on employment relations, it proposes to place more centrally the concept of ideational power. Fourth, it presents key insights from the papers that make up the Special Issue and fleshes out how the individual papers of the Special Issue contribute to this agenda.

Read the full article 'Ideas and power in employment relations studies' published in Industrial Relations, volume 61, issue 1.